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Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (Radhiyallaho anho) narrated that Rasulullah (SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM) has said, "Almighty Allah says, I treat my slave (man) according to his expectations from Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in My heart; if he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a better and nobler gathering (i.e. of angels). If he comes closer to Me by one span, I go towards him a cubit's length, if he comes towards Me by a cubit's length, I go towards him an arm's length, and if he walks towards Me, I run unto him."

Note: There are several points elaborated in this Hadith. The first point is that Allah deals with a man according to his expectations from Him. One should therefore always be hopeful of the mercy and benevolence of Almighty Allah and never be despondent of His blessings. Certainly, we are extremely sinful and justly deserve punishment on account of our evil deeds, yet in no case should we feel despondent of the mercy of Allah, as He may perhaps totally forgive us.

"Lo! Allah forgiveth not if a partner be ascribed unto Him and forgiveth all save that to whom He will."

But Almighty Allah may or may not forgive; that is why the Ulama say that true belief lies in between hope (of forgiveness of Allah) and fear (of His wrath). The Holy Prophet (SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM) once visited a young Sahabi, who was breathing his last, and asked him how he was feeling. He replied, "O! Messenger of Allah, I am hopeful of the mercy of Allah, and yet I am afraid of my sins." Thereupon the Holy Prophet (SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM) said "When the heart of a believer is filled with these two feelings of hope and fear, Almighty Allah fulfils his hope and saves him from what he is afraid of."

It is mentioned in one Hadith that a believer thinks of his sin, as if he is sitting under a huge rock that is threatening to fall on him, while for a transgressor his sin is no more than a fly which is easily scared off, i.e., he takes his sins very lightly. In short, one should be appropriately afraid of ones sins, and at the same time remain hopeful of Allah's mercy.

Hadhrat Mu'aaz (Radhiyallaho anho) died of the plague and, in the moments of death's agony, he fainted many times. Whenever he regained consciousness for a moment, he would say, "Oh Allah! Thou knowest that I love Thee. By Thy Honour and Glory, Thou knowest this very well." Just before breathing his last, he said, "0 Death, you are a welcome guest but have come at a time when there is nothing in the house to eat." Then he said, "0 Allah! Thou knowest very well that I always feared Thee, and today I die hopeful of Thy forgiveness. 0 Allah! I enjoyed life, not in digging canals and planting gardens, but in remaining thirsty in the hot weather, in undergoing hardships for the sake of Islaam, and in taking part in the gatherings engaged in zikr under the supervision of the Ulama."

Some Ulama have written that the fulfillment of expectations promised by Almighty Allah in the aforesaid Hadith is in its most general sense. It carries assurance not only in respect of forgiveness but also in respect of prayers, health, wealth and safety. For instance when a person prays to Allah and sincerely believes that Allah shall accept his prayer, then his prayer is actually accepted, but if he has doubt (that his prayer would not be accepted], it is not accepted. Thus, in another Hadith it is stated that the prayer of a person is granted so long as he does not say that his prayer is not granted. The same is true in the case of all blessings relating to health, prosperity, etc.

According to one Hadith, if a destitute person discloses his hunger to everybody, he is not relieved of his poverty, but if he shows submission to Gracious Allah, his condition may soon change for the better. However, hoping for the better from Almighty Allah is one thing, and being over-confident of His help and forgiveness is another thing. Almighty Allah has warned us against such an attitude in several verses of the Holy Qur'an e.g.

"Let not the deceiver (the Satan) beguile you in regard to Allah" i.e. one should not be misled by the devil to commit sins just because Allah is the most Merciful and the Forgiver".

There is another verse,

"Hath he knowledge of the Unseen, or hath he made a pact with the Beneficent. No, never."

The second point in this Hadith is "Whenever a slave of mine remembers Me, I am with him." In another Hadith, it is stated, "So long as one's lips move in My remembrance I remain with him" i.e. Almighty Allah bestows His special care and mercy on him during all this time.

The third point is that Almighty Allah mentions him with a favour to the angels, which signifies the value of zikr. Firstly, this is because Allah created man such that inherently he is liable to be good as well as to go astray, as given below in Hadith No. 8. Submission on his part therefore deserves special appreciation. Secondly, at the time of Aadam's creation, the Angels (who have no instinct for doing evil) could not understand the creation of man and had contended that he would cause blood-shed and trouble in the world, while they are always there to praise and glorify Almighty Allah.

Thirdly, man's worship of Allah and submission to His will is more commendable than that of the Angels, because he does so on account of his faith in the unseen which, however, is actually seen by the angels. It is to this fact that Allah refers in the Holy Book: "How would man not have worshipped if he had actually seen the Paradise and the Hell." It is for this reason that Almighty Allah praises the noble deeds of those who worship and glorify Him without seeing Him.

The fourth point contained in the above-mentioned Hadith is that if a man increases his devotion to Almighty Allah, the increase in His mercy and kindness upon him is proportionately far greater. "Getting near" and "running" signify immediate increase in His blessings and mercy. Thus, it is up to a person that, if he wants to enjoy more kindness and favours from Almighty Allah, he should increase his devotion to Him.

The fifth point in the above mentioned Hadith is that the Angels have been stated to be superior to man, while it is commonly known that man is the best creation of Allah. One reason for this has already been explained in the translation (of the Hadith), that the angels are superior because they are innocent and are unable to commit sins. Secondly, they are superior because they are better than the majority of men, including even the majority of believers; and yet some selected Believers like the Prophets (Alaihimus salaam) are superior to the angels.

There are other reasons as well, which are however left out in order to prevent the discourse from getting too long.

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